From boosting strength to building muscle to improving productivity, there are plenty of science-backed benefits linked to the popular workout supplement creatine. And according to new research published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition, whether you take the supplement before or after resistance training could amplify its effects.
Should You Take Creatine Before or After Working Out?
For the study, 19 male recreational bodybuilders were randomly divided into two groups. One group took 5g of creatine monohydrate before workouts, and another group took the same amount of creatine immediately following its workouts. The men trained five days a week for four weeks and consumed 1.9g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
While creatine boosted strength and muscle mass among all men in the study, those who took creatine after working out gained more lean mass and increased their bench-press one-rep max more than men who took the supplement pre-workout.
Men who took creatine after working out gained more lean mass, but all men in the study boosted muscle mass after taking creatine.
Should You Take Creatine on Rest Days?
You can take creatine on rest days, but the timing is less important than on days you work out.
The reason for taking creatine on rest days is to keep the creatine content of your muscles high. One study suggests “loading” for 5 days, which means taking fairly high amounts (20g per day) of creatine for 5 days.
Should You Take it With a Meal?
Studies into this have found mixed results. Some studies such as this one suggest taking creatine with carbs can help boost effectiveness for building muscle, but others suggest that this has no effect. Nutritionists suggest spreading your creatine dosage out throughout the day and combining with a meal with carbs where possible – and drinking plenty of water.
Is Morning or Evening Better?
There is little to suggest whether taking creatine in the morning is better than at night according to Livestrong. It depends when you exercise and, for the loading phase, when works best for you.
Other Benefits and Side-Effects of Creatine
Beyond muscle size and strength, creatine may also improve productivity and boost testosterone. Read six reasons you should be taking creatine to see what else the supplement can do for you, or check out our recommendations for the best creatine powders.